Through Present (1950-present)
The later half of the 20th century saw fashions increasingly
being influenced by and indicators of social, musical, and
artistic movements. By the 1960s a competing variety of styles
presented people with multiple options of self expression that
were more than simply class indicators, but indicators of
various subcultures. Mod (short for modernist) culture, which
began in London peaked in the ‘60s. Mod girls dressed in
minidresses with geometric prints and wore oversized
sunglasses. Supermodel Twiggy was seen as the symbol of Mod.
The hippie/bohemian counterculture protested the accepted way
of life, opting for social change in regards to the human
rights movement, religion, the Vietnam war, and even clothing.
Rather than dressing in the standard formal attire expected of
them, hippie fashion (or anti-fashion) incorporated loose,
bright colored styles inspired by the middle and far east, as
well as distressed jeans, long jewelry, and, according to
stereotype, bare feet. Otherwise, first lady Jackie Onassis
Kennedy was a style icon, adorning herself in clothing
regarded as sleek and sophisticated. She dressed in perfect
understated elegance for America’s “royal family.”
The 1970s brought the disco dance scene and along with it, the
popularity of new clothing, such as double knit stretchable
fabric with reflecting lights. (Who thought this was a good
idea?) The disco style consisted of gold lame leopard print,
stretch halter jumpsuits, platform shoes, and white, glowing
clothing. The 1970's also brought Punk rock with bands such as
The Clash and The Cramps, and with it punk fashion.
Intentionally torn and altered clothing (like frayed pants and
safety pinned and chained jackets) along with confrontational
hairstyles, such as mohawks were used to express a distaste of
modern culture and values sometimes associated with anarchy
and defiance. The feminist movement played a part in fashion
as well during this time. There was an organized effort to
establish equal economic and political right and opportunities
for women. Shorter skirts and pantsuits were worn, and because
of the Education Amendments of 1972, public school could no
longer require different dress codes for male and female
students, and girls began wearing pants to school.
In the 1980s fashion too moved in many different directions.
Professional women moved up in the workplace adopting "The
Power Look,” a menswear inspired style that sported blazers
with shoulder pads, thin ties, and suits. For men a more
casual style was adapted. Additionally, health and fitness
were concerns among the culture, and stretchable fabrics and
dance wear, like leggings, leg warmers, and leotards became
incorporated into daywear. Women’s hair was worn large and
feathered. Neon colors, as well as loose, baggy clothing (such
as M.C. Hammer harem pants), and other hip-hop influenced
looks like graffitied shoes and bomber jackers were popular
among the youth as well.
By the 1990s with generation X, dressing down was more common
in America then not. The Grunge rock movement and Seattle
scene became popular in the youth culture in the U.S., and
because of this plaid, jeans, five o’clock shadows, and
just-woke-up hair was worn by the majority of the youth. The
pop band The Spice Girls influenced pre-teen girls with their
outrageous platform shoes and skin-tight mini dresses.
Designer Oscar de la Renta famously said, "Today, there is no
fashion, really. There are just...choices." Perhaps by now,
there are so many subcultures to choose from, so many
designers influenced by street wear and street wear influenced
by designers, and so much clothing that is mass produced and
low-quality clothing that fashion has disappeared,
or at least greatly changed form.